Journey into Class Charlie

I’m really only weeks away from my Private Pilot’s license. I’ve been delayed this year by too many other things going on, so I haven’t been able to focus on the written exam studying. But in the meantime, I’ve been doing everything else I can think of to strengthen my experience in the cockpit, including landing at Charleston International (jump to video).

As part of my requirements, I need(ed) to accomplish the following:

1) 20 hours of Dual flight with Instructor:
3 hours of cross-country (50 miles or more)
3 hours of night-flying – 1 hr as a cross-country flight, 10 Touch & Go landings/10 Full stop
3 hours of instrument only flight (wearing foggles or thru clouds)
3 hours specific training prior to flight check (final flight test for gaining license)

Foggles for Instrument Training

2) 10 hours of Solo flight:
5 hours of cross country flying
1 solo cross-country over 150 miles total, with full stop landings at 3 different points
3 Touch & Go Landings and 1 full stop at a Class D (control towered) Airport

I’ve accomplished all those things (except the 3 hours prior to flight check, which is upcoming before my test). Last I looked, I had about 35 Dual flight hours, and 30 Solo flight hours. In addition, I’ve been so interested in learning and getting more experience, I’ve done the following as well:

1) Flying to another Class D airport Hilton Head (KHXD), in addition to my trips to Grand Strand (KCRE).
2) Numerous Clearances from ATC into Class C airspace over Charleston to simply fly over downtown
3) Several flights to Walterboro airport, including one using Dead Reckoning to find my way there.
4) Simulated Engine out from 5000 ft, and landing at JZI at idle only

My most recent, non-required, adventure was into Charleston’s Class C for the full stop at KCHS airport. This was something I have been wanting to do for a while, dry running in my head for months. It pretty much encapsulates all the procedures I’ve read and done to some degree, and putting it into real-life execution.

In brief, to land at a Class C airport, you have to do the following radio procedures:

1) Listen to Weather briefing to get latest.
2) Contact Approach on set frequency prior to entering the 10 mile radius airspace. Gain clearance and special Squawk code. They provide separation from other aircraft and give vectors/altitude on your approach.
3) Contact Control Tower when closer to gain clearance to land.
4) Once on the ground and off the runway, contact Ground Control to get taxiways to the location on the airport you’d like to park.

On leaving:

1) Listen for weather and other briefings
2) Contact Clearance Delivery to gain special departure instructions and Squawk Code
3) Contact Ground Control to get taxiways to departing Runway
4) Contact Tower for clearance to take off
5) Contact Departure once you take off and Tower passes you off, to get any special vectors out of airspace

Here’s an abbreviated GoPro video (with fast forward), complete with some of my radio transmissions, but not all of them! Not bad for a first timer flying in where the Big Heavies are?